The blog of Amon Warmann: Film journalist.

Film Review | Noah

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★★★½☆

Any notion that Noah, the latest film from Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, is going to be a Sunday school retelling of the well-known Genesis tale is utterly obliterated once we see fallen angels – termed ‘The Watchers’ – envisaged as giant rock monsters. It’s the weirdest liberty in a film teeming with them, and it’s not hard to see why there’s been much controversy surrounding the reimagining leading up to its release. For those willing to roll with Aronofsky’s ambitious endeavour, there is a thoughtful and entertaining film to be found. At least, up until the final act.

When peaceful family man Noah (Russell Crowe) receives explicit visions from ‘The Creator’ (‘God’ is never mentioned) showing a forthcoming apocalyptic event that will wipe the evils of Man from the planet, he soon realises he’s been tasked with building an ark to safeguard the innocents of Earth (namely, the animals). With the help of the aforementioned angels, his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson), and his sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll), the vessel is soon crafted. As the flood approaches however, ruthless sinner Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) and his army of heathens attempt to secure themselves a place in the vast container.

Aronofsky and fellow screenwriter Ari Handel should be commended for not shying away from the difficult decisions Noah has to make. In one particularly harrowing scene, Noah and the ark’s inhabitants hear the screams of humanity’s last survivors. It is moments such as this which offer plenty of food for thought. However, in the final 30 minutes once the flood has subsided lazy screenwriting takes hold and Noah begins to get tedious. Nowhere is this more evident than when three major predicaments occur simultaneously. Indeed, once the Ark sets sail, Noah’s initially compelling inner conflict becomes less and less so the longer it drags on.

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This is Aronofsky’s first big-budget picture, and he frequently floods the screen with epic moments, from the impressively realised storm itself to a grandstanding action set-piece with the Ent-like Watchers, all set to another powerful Clint Mansell score. There are other sublime visual flourishes too, a wondrous sequence in which Noah recounts the creation story easily the standout. With that said, the CGI for the animals is a far cry from the quality we’ve seen in films such as Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Crowe is terrific in the complex titular role, fully embodying Noah’s inherent decency whilst also proving convincing when our hero is forced to take up arms. Far more than just a standard villain, Winstone’s bellowing Tubal-Cain presents a nice juxtaposition to Noah. The other standout is Watson – who really comes into her own in the film’s final act – whilst Connelly gives the film some much-needed heart. As for the other men of the film, Anthony Hopkins brings gravitas and the occasional moment of levity as Methuselah and Lerman is also given a meaty, sympathetic arc but Booth goes underused.

Mesmerizing, mystifying, and never boring, Noah is one of those films to which many disparate adjectives apply. Sure to be divisive, it’s hard to pin down which audiences will be rushing to see Aronofsky’s bold adaptation, but it’s worth seeking out if only to join the post-viewing debate.

This review was originally published at This is Fake DIY

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2 responses

  1. There’s a lot to like here, but there’s also a lot to be confused about, solely because it seems like Aronofsky has this come off like a jumble of ideas. But still, it’s always interesting to see where it goes. Good review Amon.

    Like

    April 7, 2014 at 12:20 pm

  2. Great review, Amon. Even if I wasn’t a fan of the Watchers, I quite enjoyed this film and thought it was very entertaining. Jennifer Connely was the standout for me, though, and I quite liked how Aronofsky and Crowe handled the story’s darkest moments.

    Like

    April 7, 2014 at 8:23 pm

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